Friday, November 20, 2015

kinja baeerin (긴자바이린)

kinja baeerin (긴자바이린)
서울 종로구 율곡로 1길 39
tel: 02-734-9765

what was consumed: tonkatsu! and curry udon. and and and ...

HJ's favorite food is curry and/or tonkatsu. so, when she tells me that kinja baeerin (긴자바이린) is her absolute favorite place, who am i to question a local connoisseur? when HJ's friend came to town (a japanese american living in europe), she insisted that we go to kinja baeerin not only because it's her favorite place for tonkatsu and curry, but also because he, living in europe, always had hankerings for asian food (he says it's expensive and the good places are few and far between ... i believe it!). it was also a rainy day, so the crispy-ness of donkatsu and the sort of soothing flavor of the curry was something to look forward to.

in the middle of all the cute cafes and galleries of bukchon is kinja baeerin. the space was, apparently, a former gallery. the decor of the restaurant shows as much as the owner (?) exhibits favorite works of favorite local (?) artists. ok, so i frankly just appreciated the works from afar. i was too busy looking at the menu! kinja baeerin specializes in tonkatsu. and the tonkatsu is so deliciously prepared! the crispy and light outer coating and the

the curry at kinja baeerin also pairs with the tonkatsu so nicely. not too salty, just filled with flavor. i wished for a few more noodles in the curry udon, but the abundance of curry offered the opportunity to dip the tonkatsu as well as mix with some rice. delish!

next time, we'll have to make sure we get there early so that we can order the tonkatsu sandwich, they only make a handful of them, daily. and the bread is special made just for this! must go back. must order more more more! nom nom nom!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

dahl-ryuh-rah gae-mi by gae-mi-jip (달려라 개미 by 개미집)

dahl-ryuh-rah gae-mi by gae-mi-jip (달려라 개미 by 개미집) 
(or, if you're looking for a direct translation: run, ant by ant hill)
서울 용산구 녹사평대로46길 18, 2층
tel: 02-794-5955

what was consumed: makgulli (막걸리) and associated anju :D

i love the current trend/fad/popularity of traditional korean wine specialty bars. many of the bars make their own makgulli and all of them offer some sort of goodies that pair well with the makgulli. i, of course, just go to eat. hehehe.

after some delicious korean bbq (and after a few drinks elsewhere), friends and i make our way to gae-mi jip for some makgulli. gae-mi jip makes their own makgulli, and a few variations - we tried original, citron, and toasted rice (i heard the greatest number of compliments for the citron flavor). and, as some will argue is the correct way, served in metal teapots.

more importantly (for me) were the tasty treats. we, of course, ordered pancakes. gae-mi jip offered a few fusion versions of my favorites. kimchee pancake with cheese? chives pancake with beef? yes please!

there's something pretty awesome about going to places like this. a bit hip, a bit traditional ... a combination of all. i can't wait to go again!

Monday, November 16, 2015

guhl-goo-neh (걸구네)

guhl-goo-neh (걸구네)
서울 용산구 이태원로2길 6
tel: 02-795-3992

what was consumed: korean bbq! pork belly, pork ribs (korean american fusion), 

some complain that there aren't enough korean food options in itaewon. while there are lots of international options in itaewon, there are also a few korean cuisine gems. for sure! the haters need to look. not even look harder. just look.

friends and i got together to entertain some other friends who were visiting form out of town and started the night at guhl-goo-neh. we wanted to wait until the rest of our party arrived, so we ordered some deliciously spicy sea snails and noodles (골뱅이 무침). note: this is probably one of my favorite dishes when i join others who are drinking. it's always spicy and always accompanied by a good amount of veggies to mix with the flour noodles. some places make it spicier or vinegar-y-er than others, but it's always right around the same amount of deliciousness. the price of sea snails seems to be rising exponentially, though. sad (for me).

but we were here at guhl-goo-neh for korean bbq, specifically pork belly.  the servers will prepare the stone grill that tilts down. the pork belly is brought to your table uncut, on skewers. the fat from the pork belly drips down into a bed of veggies that cook in the pork fat allowing the fat to drip down and collect in a bowl at the bottom of the tilted grill. and, of course, the pork belly is consumed in lettuce and/or sesame seed leaves (yes! my favorite!).

we also got an order of the pork ribs. they're prepared like american style ribs, but cooked with a korean style sauce. at guhl-goo-neh, the ribs are prepared well. and the sauce is on the sweet side and very spicy. if you're looking for something that's korean-ish, be sure to order at least to taste. it's well worth it!

i'm glad to have visited guhl-goo-neh. definitely must go back. the long lines outside show that others agree with me too. next time, i'll have to try the fried rice at the end of the meal and also "gohb-chang," which is what this place is really known for. MUST!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

two two chicken

two two chicken
multiple locations (likely one near you). for lunch, we went to this location:
gwanghwamun location
서울 종로구 사직로8길 42
tel: 02-737-2292

what was consumed: ddukbokki! cooked at the table (their lunch special. do all of the two two chickens do this?). and an order of fried chicken. of course.

lunchtime! and when t told us that he wanted to go to one of his favorite places, especially good when it is cold, we took his word for it. when he led us to two two chicken, we first thought he was joking. now that we've eaten there, we're glad he wasn't (joking).

two two chicken is one of the most popular fried chicken places in korea (or so i've heard). but for lunch, at least the location by the office, they offer spicy rice cakes, cooked at your table, will all sorts of fixin's (i've been hankering for this as of late. our meal started with some warm fish cake soup and a big bowl of rice. a note about the rice. it looks like a big bowl of rice with a bunch of dried seaweed on top. and a plastic glove. what the ... you're supposed to put the glove on (of course), mix the rice with the dried seaweed, and make bite-sized rice balls. YES!

soon after, our server turned on our burner and plopped a large pot of spicy rice cakes accompanied by fried mandoo, ramen noodles, egg, etc. a bit salty, a bit spicy, and totally a delicious, warm, and filling lunch. we also couldn't come to two two chicken and not order chicken. the sauce is a little sweet and a little spicy. i was able to nab a few pieces that were sans sauce. they were just the right amount of crispy and seasoned so that no sauce was necessary. a great lunch!

let me know if you want to go. i will endure smelling like ddukbokki afterwards and join you. yes please!

Monday, November 9, 2015

left coast artisan burgers

left coast artisan burgers
서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 130-43 2층
tel: 02-6223-5338

what was consumed: burgers (juicy lucy: cheese stuffed patty, lettuce, grilled onion, L.C. sauce and the hot stuff: pickled onion, spice pepper and garlic spread), of course. and fries. and even more of course, tater tots!

finally! time to enjoy the burgers i've been hearing so much about. and california-inspired? sigh. i'm totally at the right place.

left coast has classic fare as well as some pretty creative burger options that are must tries. cheese stuffed patties? garlic spread? pickled onions? these are the things are total pluses to your burger enjoyment. the patties are cooked well (i.e., not overcooked) and placed between nicely toasted buns (i'm not a bun fan, but i definitely enjoyed the ones served to me). the buns also soak up all of the yummy meat juices as well as the special sauces the chefs at left coast have prepared, making it a delicious flavor profile combination. the default side for the burgers is a salad (i know, i know); there's an upcharge for a fries substitution (the nerve!). that said, that didn't matter for me because additional orders of fried potatoes were going to happen anyway. of course!

and for reals, order the fries and for sure order the tater tots (or whole orders of them altogether):
this photo does not do the fried potatoes justice. 

they are so delicious. crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and seasoned with something that will make you want to eat the entire plate as soon as you can. and as is (my) california style, you can order a side of ranch for dipping. hooray!

i will also note that friend s was a veggie for years and years. but claims that her current obsession with left coast burgers is a sign of the end of that veggie era. what! welcome to the carnivorous world! and thanks left coast burgers!!!


Saturday, November 7, 2015

meok shwee dohn nah (먹쉬돈나)

meok shwee dohn nah (먹쉬돈나)
multiple locations. we went to the location in sam-cheong-dong (서울 종로구 율곡로3길 66-5, tel: 02-723-8089)

what was consumed: ddukbokki! prepared at your table (of sorts) with the option for all sort of additions. we chose seafood, cheese, fried mandoo, kim ma ri (noodles rolled in seaweed then fried), ramen, chewy noodles ... 

i love ddukbokki. there's just something about the spicy rice cakes that are so delicious. and when the dish is prepared at your table with all sorts of goodies, i can't resist! i also told myself that i need to eat my heart's content of korean "street" food so that i don't crave it later. not possible! additionally, i'm back on my k-drama kick and one of them had the characters either talk about or enjoy ddukbokki on a regular basis (ok, so it was this one). and so, any chance i get to enjoy ddukbokki, and with good friends, i'm all for it!

here's what we ordered: 

at meok shwee dohn nah, you take your seat, decide the sort of ddukbokki you're going to order, what sort of additions you'd like, and order. in a few minutes, the staff bring out a large bowl filled with all of the things you just ordered. and then, on the burner that sits on your table, the broth starts to boil and all of the ingredients just ... meld together. it's so delicious, i can't even describe. 

and once you're eaten the bulk of your meal, be sure to get at least an order of fried rice: they take the leftover sauce/broth, mix it with rice and a few other things (e.g. seaweed), and they place it back on your table's burner at a low heat. this allows the bottom layer to begin toasting, just a little bit. a great end to a fabulous snack food-turned meal :D can't wait to go again!


Thursday, November 5, 2015

jang teo soon dae guk (장터 순대국)

jang teo soon dae guk (장터 순대국)
서울 특별시 종로구 종로 1, 2, 3, 4가동
tel: 735-8055

what was consumed: soondae guk! with all the fixin's

on cold days (and even on the not cold days), there's nothing like a hearty bowl of soup, especially if the soup has a deep deep flavor. and when the dish is filled with loads of goodies, then all the better! that's how we find ourselves ordering soondae guk at jang teo on a regular basis. now, when i tell my local friends that i love soondae, even soondae guk, they are surprised. i'm not sure why. and then i ask them to take me to their favorite places. hehehe. once, i saw a gaggle of them here at jang teo. yet another good sign of good food!


so, if we decide to go to jang teo, we make the decision early and race out of the office so that we can secure our seats. jang teo has quite a bit of seating, but even in the summer, you'll miss first seating if you don't race over. you can join all of the slow walkers in the line that goes out the door. hahaha ...

 while jang teo offers a few other varieties, i (and most of the rest of the diners) will opt for the soon dae guk. each table is fitted with a variety of additions that will allow you to season your soup to your liking: sliced peppers, red spicy paste, chopped garlic, salt, salted shrimp, sesame powder, chives ... experiment to see what combination suits your fancy! 

and, as is the case with many of these places that specialize in bone broths, the kimchee (both cabbage and radish) is fantastic. the fresh cabbage kimchee (my preferred) is seasoned well and crisp. they leave large bowls on the table and ask you to spoon out just what you'd like to eat. i always end up eating a lot. A LOT.

let me know if you go - i want to come with!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

hon cham chee (혼 本 참치)

hoan cham chee (혼 本 참치)
서울 마포구 공덕동 463-109
tel: 02-6353-2555

what was consumed: fish! to be more specific, tuna! to be even more specific, the special tuna.

have a hankering for sashimi? i usually do, more often than not. much like lots of other things, i don't consider myself a connoisseur (i.e., i'll still super enjoy my sashimi even if it was previously frozen. i know. there may be some sort of wrong in that statement, but ... oh well); rather, i enjoy the good eats with good friends. we'd been told that the restaurants in the gong-dok area, at one time, catered to the japanese tourists and businessmen in korea. so, when A made a suggestion, i was all in. M, A, and i resolved that we had to go. asap.

after work, we head over to hon-cham-chee (the nearest subway stop it ae-oh-geh, but we walked a tad more from gong-deok which is more convenient for us). we knew there was a GS25 in the building and when we didn't see the "hon" sign on the outside, we figured the restaurant was probably somewhere in the building (we were right). while we were on the early side for (korean) dinner, we were surprised to see that there was no one inside. oh well. we opted for bar seating (my fav) and all ordered the special-cham-chee. the chef wanted to make sure that we knew the price (we paid krw 60,000 pax) was per person. we assured him that we did and that we were ready for a great meal.

the meal started with a small bowl of rice porridge ... and then came the slices of tuna:
seriously, i didn't even know some of those cuts existed.

some cuts were more fishy, some were more fatty, some were more chewy, some had some cartilage (intentionally) ... but i definitely enjoyed the variety. apparently, you're supposed to dip the tuna in a little soy sauce (my preferred as well), with a the tuna wrapping a bit of wasabi (which i voluntarily omitted) and a bit of the greens. i would have not thought to wrap the greens, but it was pretty tasty. the server also brought out some dried seaweed/lavar in case we wanted to wrap the tuna in seaweed (we didn't, though we tried with a cut and it was pretty darn good too).

what's more, in between the different sashimi, they will bring out a variety of dishes to round out your meal:
i can't even ... 

fresh chives kimchee salad, udon, baked corn, potato and chives pancake, grilled makeral, salmon sushi, spicy fish stew ... YUM.

the rumor (and maybe experience) is that the chef will keep cutting tuna slices for you until you order the final course, the spicy fish stew (bottom right corner). i'm not sure if this is true, or if this is just for those who order the special tuna, or or or ... but our chef definitely kept bringing us things to eat, both tuna sashimi as well as more conventional sushi (like masago hand rolls). we seriously rolled out of hon cham chee ... happy :D 

so, friends, when are we gonna go again?